In brief: Another day, another delay. Just one day removed of Valve delaying its Steam Deck handheld into 2022, Panic has done the same with the Playdate. This time, however, it wasn't a component shortage but rather, a faulty set of batteries that resulted in the delay.
Panic, the company that published adventure game Firewatch in late 2016, announced the Playdate in mid-2019. The quirky handheld eschews high-powered hardware and flashy graphics in favor of a minimalistic design with a unique crank mechanism and a season-based distribution method for games.
The initial batch of 20,000 Playdates went up for pre-order this past summer and were snapped up in under 20 minutes ahead of a planned late 2021 launch. Unfortunately, that vague launch window is no longer valid.
Hi! If you've pre-ordered a Playdate, check your email for a copy of the "Playdate Owner's Update #1".— Playdate (@playdate) November 11, 2021
There's bad news (a battery tragedy means Late 2021 units are now Early 2022, see email for your timing) but also good news (Pulp+SDK release dates!!)
Thanks for reading it. pic.twitter.com/03BUolZetY
Panic said that as the first 5,000 units arrived at their warehouse in California, they quickly realized that some weren’t exhibiting the battery life they expected. In fact, the packs in some systems were so drained that they wouldn’t power on at all, and couldn’t be charged.
This led to a months-long investigation, which ultimately resulted in Panic making the decision to replace all of the existing batteries with packs from a different supplier. This meant they had to ship all 5,000 finished Playdates back to Malaysia for new batteries.
The good news, the company said, is that they have already received the new batteries from the new supplier and they look great.
In related news, Panic said it has run into supply issues (just like everyone else) and that the Playdate’s current CPU is backordered by two years. It’s simply not feasible to wait that long, so the team revised the Playdate’s main board (for units made later next year) to utilize a similar, but more widely available, CPU.
The company said end users won’t notice anything different when it comes to playing games, adding that it gives them the best chance of being able to ship more handhelds in 2022.